HC Warns of Contempt action after Maharashtra govt doesn’t respond to its query on land allotment for Disabled persons

 The Bombay High Court has warned the Maharashtra government of contempt proceedings against its officials if it fails to respond to the court’s query on 5 per cent reservation in land allotment at concessional rates for disabled persons under the Disabilities Act.

A division bench of Justices Gautam Patel and Neela Gokhale in their order expressed displeasure with the failure of the government to furnish a “meaningful response” to a plea seeking relief under the Act.

“This is the most shameful state of affairs,” the court said, giving the state government “a last chance”.

Under Section 37 (c) of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, the government shall make schemes in favour of persons with disabilities and provide 5 per cent reservation in allotment of land at concessional rates for housing, shelter, setting up occupation or business or for recreation centres.

The court was on July 31 hearing a petition filed by one Rajendra Lalzare seeking implementation of the provision.

The bench noted that the petition was filed in 2020 and has been listed for hearing periodically and on each occasion it has been adjourned so that the government could file its affidavit.

In September 2022, an additional government pleader orally informed the court that the government was contemplating issuing general directions to all departments to reserve 5 per cent of land for persons with disabilities and that a final decision would be taken.

“The bench that heard the matter in September 2022 had noted that the statutory provision of the Disabilities Act has not been implemented in letter and spirit. The bench had said the government has to be serious on the issue,” HC said in its order.

It added that even since then the government has not yet responded properly to the plea. “We are told that an affidavit has been filed referring to the Maharashtra Land Disposal Rules. But that was not the query of the court,” HC said.

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The bench said it was giving the government a last chance to file a proper affidavit stating the steps taken under Section 37 (c) of the Disabilities Act.

If such an affidavit was not filed, the court said, it would have “no choice but to proceed against the concerned officers, if necessary, in suo motu contempt for disobedience of orders of this court”.

The court posted the matter for further hearing on August 21.

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